Tag Archives: Eric Clapton

The Picnic At Blackbushe Aerodrome

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This is something I first wrote on July 3, 2008. Eight years on and the post has not weathered too well because of a concerted attack by YouTube and Sony who kept removing the videos, they are so protective of Bob Dylan. So I thought I would try to revive it and tart it up a bit with some new  videos.

On this day before Independence Day, my first as an American citizen although we always celebrated the 4th of July in our family because it was my mothers birthday, I started to think of all the picnics I had been to before. After all the 4th of July is renowned for its picnics. And hands down, the best picnic I ever attended was July 15, 1978 at Blackbushe Aerodrome.

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Not just Bob Dylan, but also Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker & The Rumour and Lake, all of whom were supporting that day. This gig has since passed into legend. So I guess I attended at least one legendary concert.
This was an awesome day. Me and my mate Dave arrived around 8.30 to 9.00 am. We wanted to be there early to get a good spot. We parked just around the outside of the “arena”, this was our first mistake. The “arena” was really a huge grassy area fenced of with a corrugated iron fence. The gates were not supposed to open until noon, but after a short while there was so many people waiting they decided to let us in early. We scooted across the grass, heading for the stage with our blanket and our case of beer (2nd mistake, only one case and no cooler. Not sure if they had been invented yet in England, but that’s OK I drank warm beer in those days).

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So we sat and waited, and drank some beer. The good news, we had a great spot. About 20 feet from the stage almost front and center. Any closer and we would be among the chosen few going home with a serious crick in their necks.
All in all couldn’t be better.
Then on stage came Merger who if I remember were a Reggae band, other than that not too much to remember about them. They were quickly followed by Lake of whom I remember nothing.

Then came Graham Parker and The Rumour. They sang their hit and a few other songs, not one of my favorites so I wasn’t that into them. It may have been at that time I went around the stalls to see what tat was for sale. I did buy a sweatshirt which I kept for many years, when I finally disposed of it in a yard sale a few years ago the possibility of it ever having fitted me looked remote.

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I think they then changed the running order since Eric Clapton and his band came on next. They switched sets with Joan Armatrading. I have always maintained that the reason that did that was so Eric could have a breather between sets and get ready to come back and jam with Bob.
You can get bootlegs of both Eric and Bob’s sets. Although I hear they are not too swift. Bootlegging in those days wasn’t what it is today, the sound quality leaves something to be desired. But you can at least see the set lists there.

As mentioned before, there is not too much video around from Blackbushe and none of any of the performances. But since we can’t go too long without here is a meeting of Eric Clapton & Bob Dylan from a 1999 benefit. Twenty one years on.
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

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While talking about the generalities, can you believe my ticket to this fantastic line up cost me £6 (approx $12). You can still buy them today, probably not for £6.
And the crowd had by this time swollen to around 200,000 although it seemed more like a quarter of a million.
You also have to remember the times, there was no large video. So if you were up the back (about half a mile it seemed) you didn’t get to see much. But we were real happy on our close proximity blanket. The only time we couldn’t see much was on the long trek to the toilets. Beer and concerts cause that kind of problem.

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Anyway as mentioned Joan Armatrading was on next and she performed a nice set. She was big at the time with Love and Emotion and Show Some Affection. Although I was not her biggest fan I was not bored.
Then, with a lightning flash down the side of his pants out come Bob Dylan. And the rest of the night was a rapturous time. Except for some strangeness in the middle when he introduced some other “singers”. But all in all Bob performed for about three hours.

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This one is doubly poignant, since my youthful nickname was the title of this song.
Senor

“Bob Dylan Blackbushe 1978 Senor – sorry for random pics added in a hurry, but being probably one of Dylan’s best live performances of this song, possibly THE best ever, the music matters more than the video. For some reasons the promoters never hired a video crew, hence this audio track is the best that’s left.”  {Uploader]

I have to agree with the uploader, this is definitely one of the best versions of this song.

Then we had the fun of getting home, now you take 200,000 people who all day have been flipping peace signs to one and other, taking the odd beer, hitting the odd joint and let them loose on a big field with the equivalent of 10 lanes of traffic. Also bunches of other lanes of pedestrians, and the lanes slowly dwindle down to two to actually leave the grounds and what you have is a clusterfuck of huge proportions.
We took it in turns to drive and jump out of the car to wake the driver in front who had gone to sleep again. And all that happy hippy stuff just disappeared. Everybody turned into road ragers. We eventually got home around 4.30 am, and we only lived about 20 miles from Blackbushe. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

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As a finale here’s a video with good sound quality and some slightly fuzzy pictures of the picnic. I’m guessing they are a bit fuzzy having been copied from Super8 or something like that. Definitely no iPhones in the seventies. We just lived it, and didn’t photograph it. We just rely on the memories, not realizing at the time we were gonna get old.

Live Compilation – Best Sound Quality

1. My Back Pages (Instrumental) – Live Original
2. Love Her With A Feeling – Live Original
3. Baby Please Stop Crying – Live Original
4. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – Live Original
5. Shelter From The Storm – Live Original
6. It’s All Over Now Baby Blue – Live Original
7. Girl From The North Country – Live Original
8. Ballad Of A Thin Man – Live Original
9. Maggie’s Farm – Live Original

I recently found out about the UK Festivals blog site, which is an excellent source to find out more about the Picnic at Blackbushe. I’m not sure but maybe some of the photo’s I’ve used are also on that site, but I got most of them from my old blog post in 2008.